Imagine a lazy Sunday afternoon or a Wednesday evening, when you don’t feel like cooking but also want to have something delicious, what do you do? Pizza or Pasta you’ll say. Today with home delivery becoming a common phenomenon, we don’t have to think twice before clicking a few buttons on our laptops and ordering food.
But if you are a Nagpurkar, or have been living in the city long enough, the first thing that will come to your mind when I say food delivery service, won’t be Dominos or Pizza Hut, it’ll be Dial For Food by Jog Caterers.
Reacho Nagpur got in a conversation with the pioneer of food delivery service in Nagpur, Narendra Jog. And this is what he had to say!
When and how did you start Jog Caterers?
It was in 1989 that I got into this business. Back then I used to be a caterer at the Gondwana Club, in fact, I was the first caterer there. Between 1990-92, I was running a wine shop for a year and then a bar for the next two years, it was after 1993 that I completely came into the catering and food delivery business. So I have been a full-time caterer for the past 24 years.
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In a time when people preferred to have job security, you thought of starting your own business. Tell us about your journey.
I think of myself as a born entrepreneur. I don’t know why, but I never thought of having a job. Even as a child, I knew I wanted to do something of my own and not work under someone else. I have been on my own since I was 16. While in junior college, I used to sell sarees, then while graduating I was into selling biscuits or computer peripherals, I was also into manufacturing small mechanical items.
So in a way, I was into part-time entrepreneurship while studying. When I finished Law and joined the court, I realized that I was a total misfit there. I could not continue my legal practice for more than 2 and a half months.
It was at that time, that the idea of starting Dial for Food came to my mind. Since I already had some experience in catering, I thought, a food delivery business was something new and interesting.
I remember, during that time, Dollops Ice Cream in Mumbai used to deliver ice cream, and someone had said, “I wish they delivered butter chicken at 11 pm!” that struck me and that is how it all started. In the first year, I started with making a few members, I convinced them that it will be easier for me to deliver food if they were members. I started out with some 100 members and slowly, the idea started getting popular around the city.
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You got into the hospitality industry when it was just starting out in Nagpur, did you face any challenges?
Not really, it was a virgin market and there was a lot to explore. The market grew steadily and today, even with a few competitors in the market, the business is still growing, because no one works like we do.
We deliver even the smallest orders to any corner of the city, we don’t have a minimum order. You can even order a single roshogulla and get it delivered at your doorstep. Of course, there is a delivery charge attached to it, but now we have waived off the delivery charges for orders above Rs 500.
So, in these 24 years, there wasn’t a time when you felt like giving up?
No, never. The business was growing steadily, and until recently, it was a natural growth. It was around 6-7 years ago that we started planning our growth, we started having a target-oriented business. So, there was always something new to learn and a new challenge to accept and that kept me going. Slowly we diversified and expanded our scope to guest houses, marriage halls, so that too added to the business.
Do you think the changing lifestyle of the people of Nagpur also contributed to the growth of your business?
Definitely, nowadays we see that the number of working couples has increased, this means that the average family income is going up too, so ordering is becoming a trend.
What do you attribute your success to?
To honesty, consistency and believing that your customer is your god. Things become very easy when you start believing that customer is the god. You don’t argue with the god and you don’t mistreat the god. Ours is a very customer-centric business.
Image source: indiamart
What do you know today, that you wished you had known when you started out 24 years ago?
Many things! One of the important things being the minor technicalities of the business. Like, target setting is something I learnt after being in this line for almost 10 years. In this span of 24 years, we have come a long way because we never stopped learning.
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What advice would you like to give young or aspiring entrepreneurs?
I would like to tell them that if they have an idea, no matter what the idea is, stick to it, believe in it and in yourself. You need to chase your dream, your idea. I like the Nike tagline a lot, “just do it!” and that is what it takes. Also, they should be always ready to learn, learning never stops, not even when you are successful.